Born on a beach, he united east and west, founded Glasgow, baptised Merlin, opened up the Lake District and established Britain’s newest city in Wales. All before returning to save a royal marriage and organise a Columba summit. Mungo connects Culross with Glasgow, Lanarkshire with Dumfriesshire and beyond- every place that he touched becomes a story.
Though principally remembered as Glasgow’s founding saint, Mungo who is more properly Kentigern, is one of the makers of Christian Britain. He is also the saint of stories, not only in the number of tales that attach to his name but because he deliberately set out to create a heroic Christian narrative. This was intended to replace and in some ways continue the British Celtic culture in which he had been raised.
Mungo’s biography itself is a story of dramatic contrast. Born to royal parents in a situation of life threatening conflict and peril, he was educated in the refuge of a monastery, and then ventured out on his own in an enterprise that was to overturn his reverses and make history. Mungo is a childhood nickname meaning ‘the dear one’, but Kentigern seems to have been a formidable and at times intimidating character. But then so was his mother Thenew or Enoch. Even his royal father Ewan of Strathclyde displayed a grim determination to have his own way.